Interview by Mateja Plaskan
Samsarah Lilja is the head of Lilja Design, and specialises in corporate graphic and web design. She offers a wide range of services, such as logo development, logo optimisation for various types of media, vectorisation of image files, and business cards. She has developed an overall design and utilisation concept which integrates many elements into her work.
Samsarah has had over 10 years experience in the fields of web design, programming, structure, and marketing and has gained substantial know-how through working at the Department of Architectural Theory alongside Prof. Fritz Neumever at TU Berlin, as well as completing an internship at the well-known international architecture office of Prof. Hans Kollhoff in Rotterdam. She is also the founder of archinoah.de; an internet platform for architects, and tektorum.de; an affiliated discussion board.
Samsarah has been a member of betahaus for over a year and a half.
What inspired you to start working as a freelance corporate designer? How did you get involved in the field?
I started out as an architect, and after working in this field for a while, I decided I simply was not happy there, so I had two options; to either change firms, or to become a freelance architect, which would not be so easy in Berlin. I then found myself looking for a different option. I had some experience in programming and contacts from having founded an online platform for architects. I had also done many single projects in that area while still working as an architect, so I decided to make web design my second path, and that’s how I eventually ended up here.
The website of Lilja Design states that “the company logo is the most significant graphic element for all visual representation.” How do you create a logo that successfully represents and communicates the identity of a company?
I always start by having a long discussion session with my client – and it really depends a lot on whether they are already an established company, are just starting up, or are working as a freelancer. There is a lot of psychology involved – I try to figure out things like who my clients are, who they want to be, what they want to become, what their company represents, who their clients are, and so on. I then take into consideration which colours would suit them – colours represent emotions, so I would need to know whether they wish to appear strong or gentle, masculine or feminine, and so on. Through all these questions, I get an idea from which I make a draft, and then work towards the final product. My clients are usually pretty happy with the finished work.
You have been based at betahaus for more than one and a half years. What made you decide to start working from here, and how has working at a space like a betahaus affected your work?
I had the option to work with my friends who had offered me space at their office. Unfortunately, they were all architects, and all I wanted was to leave that branch, and not be in that environment anymore. I had two friends who were working at betahaus, so I decided to have a look one day, and talk to Madeleine. I then made my decision right away, and two days later I got my fix-desk and began working from here.
Working at betahaus has had a great effect on me and on my work. I had never thought I would make a good coworker – I’m more of a loner, so I thought I would have problems with socializing. As it turned out, I could be a pretty good networker, and I made contacts really quickly. Now I even have some in-house clients, as well as external recommendations from people at betahaus, so it served as a multiplier for me. I find I’m also able to “outsource” my work to other members, so if I happen to have a big project and a lot of work to do, I sometimes find a programmer in betahaus to help me out. So now I’m able to take on big projects that normally would be done by an agency.
You have participated in many projects. Out of all those, which would you consider to be your most treasured work?
I wouldn’t say that there is one particular project of mine that I value more than others. I think of each one as a new challenge. As an architect, I’ve worked on a lot of nice things, but those often took a long time – often a few years – and I’m not a very patient person. As a web designer, I find I’m working for the moment – perhaps that’s why I decided to change fields. Every month or week, I get new projects which I have to start from scratch, so there are a lot of challenges, and also moments of success.
What are some future plans or projects for Lilja Design?
I started my new career two years ago, and right now I am pretty happy with where I am. I have a couple of a big clients that come back frequently, as well as some smaller clients, and some single projects. I would eventually like to employ people or even start an agency. But right now, I am happy just being independent, being on my own and working at betahaus – and since I’m in a coworking space, I may not even need employees! For me the most important thing right now is simply to keep doing a good job and to keep making my clients happy.